Corporate Cuisine Awards

Utah’s Best of the Best Restaurants

Di Lewis and Sarah Cutler

August 1, 2012

Best Hotel Restaurant

With a full building remodel just completed, Bambara Restaurant is better than ever. Nestled inside the Hotel Monaco, Bambara brings a “slightly over-the-top design” and elegance to dining. With the restaurant and second-floor meeting space now redone, General Manager Guy Wheelwright says it brings the dining experience together.

Housed in the former Continental Bank lobby, the restaurant plays off of the building’s history. Wheelwright says customers really enjoy the history and ambience the restaurant’s unique qualities, like the private dining room that was once the bank president’s office.

In the kitchen, Chef Nathan Powers brings a unique approach to food, working to use fresh and local ingredients whenever possible. While the halibut with sweet corn, crab and bacon hash is the most popular menu item right now, Wheelwright says the favorite long-time menu item is the blue cheese house-cut potato chips. “If we tried to stop those, we’d have a riot on our hands.”

Best Company Party Venue

Need a two-hour vacation? Head to Log Haven. “When it is baking hot down in the valley, you can come up here and it is delightful,” says Ian Campbell, general manager. “It is 10 to 20 minutes away from half a million people, but when you get here it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. It is a comforting atmosphere. Things melt away when you get here.”

The food is just as comforting with hearty options such as the grilled bison. Log Haven was one of the first in Utah to use bison and, according to Campbell, it provides all the satisfaction that beef does without the health drawbacks.

Company parties turn into a short retreat at Log Haven. “Come to the mountains,” Campbell entices. “It is so easy and so relaxing.”

Best Business Meeting Venue

It takes a lot of work to make sure every event goes off without a hitch, says Cariann Layton, director of catering and convention services at The Grand America Hotel. With more than 800 groups hosted last year, and some of those groups having more than 100 events, it’s no small task to coordinate every detail across the hotel’s 75,000 square feet of meeting space.

“What I find especially rewarding are local groups and national conventions that we get to see repeatedly,” Layton says. “To me, that shows that our property, service and attention to detail has paid off in providing them an outstanding event that they want to re-create again. It is wonderful to see the same faces year after year, and to have the same staff to welcome them back again.”

The staff is committed to maintaining the hotel’s luxurious feel. A plethora of devoted staff, from painters to grounds crews, maintain the Grand America’s first-class atmosphere. “We always want to exceed everyone’s expectations, and hopefully with each new visit or drive by the hotel they will notice something new,” Layton says.

Best Kept Secret

As a child, Adam Wheaton, owner of Madeline’s Steakhouse, frequently attended the Bear Lake Raspberry Days Festival and has carried that influence into his work. Raspberries can be found in entrees such as the raspberry halibut, which is served with homemade raspberry puree, and the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake that Wheaton says he’d put up against anybody’s personal or company cheesecake.

Wheaton includes local products in the dishes along with local wines and beers. “In the summertime, we go to the farmers markets and pick up as much produce as we can. We try to keep all the money in the community,” Wheaton says. The finishing touch to Madeline’s? Personal experience. According to Wheaton, it’s not just about food—it’s about an overall experience.

Best Coffee Break

“Our atmosphere is so down to earth and more than a coffee shop—people look at it as a community center. Lots of people come in just to meet and get together with the same group of friends for coffee every morning,” says Allan Hebertson, co-owner with husband Dieter Sellmair.

Hebertson recommends trying the Vienna roast, the lightest of the dark roasts. He notes that with a lighter roast, you can experience the full flavor of the bean as the more a coffee roasts the more it tastes like every other bean. And while you’re at it, try the homemade quiche that Hebertson makes from scratch. If you aren’t into coffee, don’t worry—Coffee Garden stocks a variety of teas that can be made hot or iced.

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